The war that’s broken out between Georgia and Russia is just the international incident that McCain needed to switch the discussion from the economy and healthcare onto national security. Now McCain is dispatching Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman to Georgia (ostensibly as members of the Armed Services Committee).
The Bushies insist they knew nothing about what the Georgians were planning, Condi Rice phoned it in despite the fact that she’s a Russia specialist who met with Saakashvilli on July 9, and Karl Rove was suspiciously in the area with Saakishvilli shortly thereafter. Throw in McCain’s lobbyist ties to Georgia and you’ve got quite a constellation of events that just happened to play to McCain’s perceived strengths.
As Greg Sargent notes, at the very least it looks like "McCain’s announcement of his key campaign allies’ trip abroad also seems designed to shoulder Bush aside as the primary GOP leadership figure here."
Today’s Pew poll says that the race between McCain and Obama has drawn even:
An even greater percentage of voters than in June now see McCain as the candidate who would use the best judgment in a crisis, and an increasing percentage see him as the candidate who can get things done.
McCain is moving quickly to use the Georgia situation to his advantage (whether it blows up in Bush’s face or not). He’s got the stage to himself at the moment, and he’s using it.